TOMORROW FOCUS AG will acquire a 55 percent stake in the French online travel agent ecotour.com (RPC Voyages SAS) with effect from 1 September 2012. Ecotour founder Guillaume Victor-Thomas and other existing investors will retain 45 percent of the company’s shares. Guillaume Victor-Thomas will continue to act as chairperson. Matthias Papet, Country Manager at HolidayCheck France, will be appointed managing director. The aim of the takeover is to link Ecotour.com’s advanced booking platform with HolidayCheck France’s ratings content and SEO (search engine optimisation) expertise.
The total purchase price of between EUR 8.5 million and EUR 12 million - depending on the company’s future performance - includes the licence for the French hotel ratings platform HolidayCheck.fr of TOMORROW FOCUS subsidiary HolidayCheck A for a sum of EUR 4 million and also a capital contribution. A further agreement has been signed with the founders and existing shareholders covering the acquisition of the remaining shares.
Ecotour.com is based in Courbevoie near Paris. It is a licensed online travel agent that covers the entire bookings value chain. It has developed its own booking technology with links to over fifty tour operators. Other travel industry providers also use the technology as a white label solution and SaaS (software as a service) in order to boost their productivity. Ecotour’s booking technology makes it possible to combine individual flights and hotels using a system of ‘dynamic packaging’. This extends the range of services that can be booked on the site. The integration of Ecotour’s booking technology into the French HolidayCheck platform will transform HolidayCheck.fr into an integrated ratings and bookings portal along the lines of HolidayCheck AG in the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Ecotour.com has generated solid growth in revenue to establish itself as one of France’s top five online travel agents. It will continue to operate as an independent portal alongside HolidayCheck.fr, whose main contribution to Ecotour.com will take the form of hotel ratings content. The combined expertise of the two companies will primarily be used to achieve a significant increase in traffic on both platforms using a variety of strategies including targeted SEO measures.
According to travel industry surveys, France is the biggest package tour market in Europe after Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. Given its relatively low proportion of online bookings compared to other European countries, there is considerable potential for growth. TOMORROW FOCUS AG’s acquisition of Ecotour.com will speed up the expansion of HolidayCheck AG in the French market and is further evidence of its strategy of developing both fast-growing and established markets.
Stefan Winners, CEO at TOMORROW FOCUS AG
‘This acquisition offers tremendous synergies and will help both platforms to expand rapidly. Our own brand HolidayCheck France, which has built up substantial traffic over a short period, can now use ecotour.com’s excellent booking technology and broker package tours itself. In return, Ecotour.com will benefit from HolidayCheck AG’s valuable ratings content and its expertise in the field of search engine optimisation. It is an ideal combination that will help both companies to achieve stronger growth.’
Guillaume Victor-Thomas, Ecotour.com founder
‘Our market vision is very much based on the use of technology. How can we boost sales and increase both quality and acceptance while offering extremely fair prices? This partnership will bring both Internet portals closer to their users. In particular, the new hybrid model combining media and sales represents a big step forward. It is hugely innovative. Very soon, we will be able to draw on the expertise of the HolidayCheck teams to add to our own online marketing know-how. That goes particularly for SEO, which is the natural yardstick around which our whole business revolves.’
Friedrich von Scanzoni, Managing Director HolidayCheck International
‘The acquisition is a major step forward in the key French market, and it shows how determined we are to take on the international competition. The two businesses and teams complement each other perfectly and confirm our strategy of driving international expansion both through organic growth and acquisitions.’
The French online travel agent Ecotour.com was founded in 2006 and is based in Courbevoie, France. The company has a workforce of 23 and expects to generate bookings revenue in the region of EUR 50 million in 2012. Thanks to its use of new technology, Ecotour.com is able to offer a particularly comprehensive range of package tours at very attractive prices. Since 2009, the company has offered its own booking technology as an SaaS (software as a service) and white label solution.
About HolidayCheck AG
HolidayCheck AG operates the biggest German-language holiday bookings and feedback portal on the Internet. The company is based in Bottighofen, just across the Swiss border from the German town of Constance. With over 250 employees, HolidayCheck AG currently handles package holidays worth over EUR 600 million a year. Today, with over 25.5 million visits every month (German Information Society for Measuring the Distribution of Advertising Media – IVW, July 2012), HolidayCheck AG operates the most important German-language holiday ratings portal as well as a TÜV-certified travel agency. In response to growing international demand, the holiday platform is now available in ten languages.
About TOMORROW FOCUS AG
TOMORROW FOCUS AG (ISIN DE005495329) is based in Munich, Germany, and is one of the leading exchange-listed Internet groups in Germany.
The Group has a workforce of around 700, and its business operations are divided into three segments: Transactions, Advertising and Technologies.
The Transactions segment includes HOLIDAYCHECK AG, which operates a number of hotel rating and travel booking portals by the same name; WEBASSETS B.V., which operates the ZOOVER hotel rating portals and the METEOVISTA/WEERONLINE weather portals; TOMORROW TRAVEL B.V., which operates the Dutch online travel agent TJINGO; ELITEMEDIANET GmbH, which operates the premium online dating agency ELITEPARTNER.de; and JAMEDA GmbH, which operates the physician recommendations portal JAMEDA.de.
The Advertising segment includes TOMORROW FOCUS MEDIA GmbH, one of the leading German online marketing providers, which markets numerous well-known portals on behalf of business partners in addition to those operated by the Group itself, such as the news and utility journalism site FOCUS Online and the stock market information portal FINANZEN100.
The Technologies segment includes CELLULAR GmbH, one of Germany’s leading full-service agencies for mobile platforms, and TFT GmbH, which provides technology and creative services for web-based IT and e-commerce solutions.